I have finished writing my third novel!

So, no image obviously, as I’ve only finished the first draft, but it’s called Metal Blade and is about a pair of bounty hunters on a new earth in the distant future, one of who has a load of cybernetic enhancements, the other carries a sword…so maybe just picture Robocop stood next to a samurai warrior for now. (Artwork’s not really my thing, so if anyone has any suggestions for cover designs, please do let me know.)

I’ll not give too much away, but in a nutshell the plot revolves around our heroes foiling an assassination attempt and then finding out why the poor schmuck was marked for death in the first place…we’ve got strong women, a deadly assassin, wisecracks, gunfights, swordfights, sword vs gun fights, a really odious bad guy…it’s a lot of fun, and you can read a rough first draft of the first chapter on this very website! (Along with details of where to buy my first two novels, of course, always an important thing to point out. Come for the blog, stay for the books.)

There’s still work to be done, typos to be hunted down and exterminated, possible changes to be made, entire characters to be removed/added/killed off/brought back to life, so there’ll be a short while before it hits Amazon, but I hope to have it out there for public consumption by the middle of May.

I’m actually absurdly proud of this one, I think it reads well, it’s fast-paced and exciting, and most importantly of all, I started writing it 28 days ago. 55,000 words and change, 24 chapters, a beginning, a middle, and an end. A whole book, in 4 weeks. I am actually pretty damn pleased with myself. I have a few test readers so, unless they are being mega-polite, I am fairly confident on the quality level (I could be completely wrong of course, it could be awful and I just have very nice, polite people reading this for me), I think the speed on this one comes from having had the time to really focus on it. So, if nothing else, this experiment in writing full time has at least shown that I can be fairly prolific when I put my mind to it.

Can I repeat the feat? Maybe, but what with? I am torn between writing the sequel to Realmborn, or writing another standalone story I have in mind called Monster Island. If anyone has an opinion, please let me know.

In the meantime I am going to call it a day, because this weekend holds the joys of marketing my second novel, Silver Soldiers. I’ve been advised to write a Press Release, start a Facebook page, get in touch with book bloggers, do more twittering on my Tweetie Bird account thing…this marketing lark is hard work, and I take my hat off to everyone I know who works in that field. You are all unsung, hard-working heroes!

So yeah, tomorrow’s entry might be me telling you what advertising/PR strategies I’ll be adopting, and how I hope increase market saturation and my social media presence throughout eastern Europe…head this way if you need a cure for insomnia.

As always, till next time, Stay Frosty, People.

Bl**dy migraines

I’d been hoping to finish the first draft of my third novel, Metal Blade, today. I’d had a great idea for the beefing up I wanted to do to really round the novel out, I had a plan in place, I was raring to go.

Then I woke up feeling a little rough around the edges, and took some ibuprofen. My pan still seemed doable, if slightly harder work with a mild headache. Then the visual disturbances began, the pain behind my left eye intensified, my temperature began going up and down like a yoyo on speed…all the usual signs, signs I have come to know and loathe, and I knew that today was going to be a write off.

No pun intended.

Plan A (with clear head) – complete beefing up, do some marketing stuff, begin first read through of completed draft. Perhaps reward myself with regular coffee breaks, build in some spare time to play my guitar, and look forward to a beer in the evening.

Plan B (with the migraine) – lie in a darkened room in pain and pray for the blissful reprieve of unconsciousness.

So, a completely wasted day. If you’ve ever had a migraine you have my sympathies, and I’m sure you can understand why my day turned into a completely fruitless, painful nightmare. If you’ve never had a migraine, I wish I could come even close to explaining one to you without sounding overly dramatic. It’s like a psychotic headache on steroids. With ‘roid rage. And it brings along its friends. In my case chills/fever (alternating with not set time period for each, to really keep me on my toes), nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (any light, not even necessarily bright light, just anything less dark than pitch black) and, my personal favourite, dizziness.

So, what can you do when one of these b*stards decides to take up residence for the day? Well, you can ride it out, which is extremely painful, or you can take the meds. In my case something beginning with Z and ending in tripto-something or other. The meds do help, they genuinely do, they take the edge off, they let me get to blissful sleep (if I don’t take them I’m rolling around in agony, which isn’t conducive to nodding off), and seep is the only real cure for me.

The downside to the meds is that the following day I feel like a zombie with lead weights strapped to my arms and legs and a head full of cotton wool. Migraines are a 48 hour thing for me, a day of agony, then a day of fuzzy-headed recovery. Yay for me.

Am I going to let this stop me working, though? No way no how. I am finishing that novel tomorrow, woolly headed or not. Might just take me a little longer, that’s all.

Oh, one final thing, migraines can be avoided, kind of. There are certain triggers that set them off, usually slightly different for each migraine sufferer. Mine tend to be lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption (well, duh), too much chocolate, long-distance journeys (especially if driving), and stress. Or a combination of any of the above. Oh, and green vegetables (I am sticking with that story for as long as I can get away with it). Of course, sometimes triggers can’t be avoided. I’m pretty stressed out at the moment, which in turn makes me not sleep, which in turn makes me want to eat Reese’s Pieces and drink beer. So, completely unavoidable…

That being said, regular exercise does help stave off the dreaded M word, so maybe I just need to get off my fat backside and start running again. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll let you know.

No picture today, a selfie would probably scare people (I am already in the zombie stage) and I did consider taking a picture of my meds and cold eye compress thing, but my brain decided that taking the picture, then emailing it to my gmail account so I can get it on my laptop, then uploading it to the site…it all just sounded like too much for this poor brain. Especially as typing this blog entry took me almost an hour…Normal service should resume tomorrow.

Stay Frosty, People…and if you are, can someone bring their frosty hands round and lay them on my forehead for a while? Please?

I am so glad Deadpool is still out in cinemas…

…or movie theaters, I guess, if this blog ever makes it across the Atlantic to be read in America.

What a film! I saw it for the third time tonight, and still think it is easily my favourite film of the past, well, ever.

Ryan Reynolds, perfectly cast. In fact, could anyone else have pulled off the Merc with a Mouth? I believe the answer to be no. He was obviously having fun, he was obviously invested in the role, and he was obviously passionate about giving the audience exactly what they wanted, which was the comic-book Deadpool brought to the big screen.

The film had laughs, action, and its tongue rammed firmly in its cheek (I’m sure Wade Wilson could come up with a different image of something else rammed firmly somewhere else, but let’s keep it clean). Very rarely have I been in a cinema and heard so many people laugh out loud so many times, from the opening credits onwards.

Great casting, great plot (simple but effective), simply a great movie. It worked on several levels, managing somehow to be an action film, a superhero film, and a love story all rolled into one glorious package.

I have no complaints, none, and that is rare. I’ll usually find at least one thing to pick holes in, but not with this. Roll on Deadpool 2.

Oh, writing-wise, completed the first draft of Metal Blade, my third novel, today, the first chapter of which is available on this website, but I felt today’s beer reward should go to my good friend Wade…

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Ordinarily I’d remind people to stay frosty, but not tonight.

Tonight it’s time to chimi the ******* changas!

How do I let the world know about my books?

OK, so I’ve taken the plunge and decided to write full time, I’ve now got two novels on Amazon and am on the verge of releasing a third. I believe in my books, in their quality, in the fact that they are an entertaining read, but how on earth do I let the world know that? Or even that they exist?

My first novel, Realmborn, did really well, though I am racking my brains to remember how long it took for it to begin to be successful. I feel like it wasn’t that long, but in any case it was the success of this book that convinced me I could give this authoring malarkey a go.

Realmborn

My second novel, Silver Soldiers, has been available for purchase for a little over three weeks, and so far if you’re not related to me or one of my best friends, it’s unlikely that you’re one of the dozen people who have bought it. In fact Realmborn is still outselling it…the galling thing in my mind is that I feel that the writing in the second novel is sharper, crisper, more engaging, I just need people to give it a chance. For this to happen they need to know of its existence.

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So, how do I attract attention for my books? Well, apparently reviews are the thing which help drive Amazon sales, so this morning I dedicated my life to contacting independent book reviewers and asking them very politely if they wouldn’t mind having a gander at my latest work. It was a very, very dull, repetitive morning, and I have n idea if they will even get back to me, let alone if it will do any good. But it was something to try. And as a fledgling author, feeling his way through the murky waters of self-publishing, doing something is far, far better than doing nothing.

Where there is life there is hope, as they say. So I guess where there is the potential for reviews there is hope, in my case.

Of course, if anyone reading this would like to give my books a go and leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads, please do feel free! The first chapters of each book are now available on this website, along with links to where they can be bought or read for free on Kindle Unlimited. (Realmborn here and Silver Soldiers here, for ease.) And if you like them, please do tell a friend…or ten!

I remain optimistic, I have faith in my books, and faith that people will love them, if given the chance. And so I will follow the advice I always give, and try not to freak out too much. Early days yet, plenty of time for miracles to occur and my hard work to pay off.

Hope life I treating everybody well, and as always…

…Stay Frosty, People.

Memories of a Good Man

Memories of a Good Man

Tomorrow is the 8th of April, my brother’s birthday. He would have been 40 years old, so tomorrow is a BIG day for myself and my family. Ordinarily I like to keep my blog fairly free of details of my private life, focussing more on my writing and novels, but as he has been on my mind so much in the last few days I felt that today’s blog should be all about him.

Mark Richard Eastman was a good man. Not perfect, not a saint, but a genuinely good guy. Sadly he was taken from us at the age of 33 by cancer, a brain tumour to be more precise. 33 is far too young for a good man to leave this world, and now, 7 years on, there is not a single day that goes by when he is not missed. By me, by my younger brother, by my parents, by his wife Marie, and I am sure by scores and scores of others.

Small things will remind me of him, or make me think of him. I can’t listen to any Iron Maiden music without picturing him as he was when he and I went to see them live in London a decade or so ago. I can’t use my iPad without thinking “Mark would have loved iPads” (he was always a gadget man, and incredibly tech-savvy), I can’t play computer games without remembering the many, many, many hours we spent as children playing on the BBC B (an ancient computer that you plugged into the telly, for anyone too young to remember), then on the Nintendo (anyone else remember Duck Hunt?) and then the PS2 (oh, the hours of our lives we wasted on Baldur’s Gate and Grand Theft Auto). And any time I achieve something in my life, or have problems and need to talk to someone, or I just want to share a funny story, the absence of him shreds my heart all over again.

He loved curry, and introduced me to some amazing dishes, and amazing curry houses. He enjoyed real ale, and tomorrow I will be raising a pint of Hobgoblin in his honour. He was an absolute whizz with anything technical or computer-ey, and I can’t believe he is not here to see that his Luddite brother now has his own website. He loved his wife, and I hope he knows that she is still loved in his absence by those he left behind, and always will be. He loved Sunderland football club, and though I am not the biggest football fan in the world I religiously follow their results and celebrate/get depressed by their victories/defeats, for him.

He was also kind, and generous, and always available when I needed him. My largest regret in life is that there were a few years in my late teens/early twenties when we didn’t speak/see each other as often as we previously had or then went on to do, and the blame for that is entirely mine. I was young, self-involved and far too interested in my own life to the exclusion of everything else in the world. Mark, if you’re out there somewhere and can read this, please know that I am sorry for the wasted time (wasted often being the operative word when thinking about those years) and if I could go back and do it over I would spend so much more time with you than I did.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Do we ever spend enough time with those we love? Life is short, and fleeting, and we never know what is going to come round the corner and knock us on our backsides. We never know what will happen to make a mockery of our plans, to ensure that those things that we put off never actually get done. “I’ll call him tomorrow”. “I’ll go see them next month, this month is far too busy”. “Maybe next year”.

Screw that, I say, don’t put off those phone calls, don’t put your faith in the fact that there’ll be another chance next month, or next year, or in five years’ time, don’t postpone the things that are really important for the sake of work/finances/rubbish. Because life might just surprise you and then you’ll have missed your chance.

My brother was a good man, he is missed, and I guess the whole point of this cathartic blog is for me to say out loud to the world that I regret not having spent more time with him when I could. He would have been 40 tomorrow, and we should have been having one hell of a party to celebrate. Instead I will be ordering a curry, having a beer and trying to remember the good times without focussing too much on just how much he is missed.

Mark Richard Eastman, good man, great brother, fantastic husband, and I now he would have been an amazing uncle. You are missed, Mark, you are loved, and you are in our minds and hearts, now and always.

I don’t think I can follow my own advice on this occasion, but it’s good advice anyway.

Stay Frosty, People.

How I Started Off As An Author

How I Started Off As An Author

A friend of mine last week suggested I might let people know how I started off as an author. I’m dubious myself as to anyone will have an interest/care/ever read this, but here goes…

One of my earliest memories of writing was as a child in school, taking a story idea in a project I was doing with a friend, and being told halfway through that I really needed to make it simpler…at twenty five pages (yes, twenty five whole pages!) it was quite a bit longer than anyone else’s in the class. Got a gold star, mind.

In my early teens I started a fantasy novel (by this point I was addicted to the novels of David Gemmell, David Eddings, Raymond E Feist, Katherine Kerr and of course, the late, great Terry Pratchett),and I think I actually managed to write about twenty thousand words or so before being distracted by the things that teenage boys get distracted by…that novel probably died along with the hard drive of the Windows 3.11 computer it was written on. Although now I think about it, there may have been some legs in the storyline, I might revisit that at a later date.

I remained a voracious reader, but didn’t write again until my early twenties, when I managed to complete a novel, A Coward’s Tale, again a fantasy novel, one where the main protagonist was a coward. Imaginatively titled, eh? I was fairly proud of this one, but in hindsight it was really not that good. Great practice, though, for the hours and hours and hours of dedication needed to actually sit down on a regular basis and complete a whole novel, start to finish.

Finally, while on holiday quite a several few years ago, I was lounging by the pool and came up with the basic idea for my first novel, Realmborn. A young man, on holiday, whisked to an alternate dimension, of which it turns out he is the long lost king and only chance of survival against a ruthless alien enemy…I scribbled down the basics, and when I got back home I wrote the first chapter. I then wrote down some notes in CAPITAL LETTERS underneath for the next chapter. And then some for the next. And the next. Before I knew it I had worked most of the night, but I had a whole storyline in note form, all built off the basic concept I had come up with by the pool. My mission became to expand each section of notes into a chapter, occasionally adding more notes as ideas occurred to me, but basically sticking to what I had written down.

Took me just shy of six years. In my defence a lot of life occurred in that period, including parenthood for the first time, and Realmborn was put to one side for quite large periods of time. But never forgotten, not completely. I came back to it with a passion a couple of years ago, stuck to it, and created a true fantasy epic, 220,000 words and a book big enough to serve as a weapon in the case of a home invasion.

I tried the literary agency route but, as any aspiring author will tell you, it is notoriously difficult to get published that way. Then someone suggested I try self-publishing on Amazon.  investigated, found out it was actually fairly simple, and not only that there are companies out there who will help you do the legwork, and then help market the book for you…for a price. I paid that price, and I am so glad I did. Realmborn made back the initial outlay within two months, and now a year or so on has done well enough that I have taken the plunge to focus on writing full time, and am hoping my second novel, Silver Soldiers, will do as well. If it does I have a third novel almost completed, a sci-fi actioner called Metal Blade, almost ready to go, and will release that on an unsuspecting world soon.

Having found my voice (that sounds really pretentious, sorry, I don’t know how else to say it) with Realmborn I found that the entire writing process had become easier. Same basic principle, come up with a central theme, idea or character (the main character in Silver Soldiers was dreamt up while I was out running), write the first chapter, complete the rest of the novel in note form (in CAPITAL LETTERS of course), then flesh it out chapter by chapter. Sounds simple, requires quite a bit of dedication and midnight oil burning, but so far I have felt that intense feeling of achievement at having created something real twice over, so as far as I’m concerned it is well worth the lack of sleep it brings with it. And I look forward to that sense of achievement for a third time soon…then a fourth and a fifth, and so on and so on until I run out of words or people stop wanting to read them.

Of course, this whole model kind of relies on people buying my novels, so please do feel free to, details on the relevant pages on this website. Go on, they’re pretty good, promise!

I hope if anyone with a passion for writing who has read this finds something useful in it, if not at least entertaining, and I thank you all for your attention and interest. Going by the stats on my previous few posts, all five of you.

Right, chapter 19 done, blogging done, time for a beer.

Stay Frosty, People.

Making Excuses…

Making Excuses…

OK, 17 chapters in 17 days, I have to say, I am pretty damn impressed with myself. I am also exhausted. That’s just shy of 35,000 words of my next novel, Metal Blade, and 35,000 words I’m actually really happy with. About halfway through, and so I think this is a pretty good point to take a break.

Partly because I think it’s  good to step away from a project for a couple of days, then come back to it, re-read the while thing and then carry on, your authorial voice renewed, partly because I could really do with a couple of nights where I sleep a bit longer than I have been (must buy more midnight oil as well), but mainly because I have an old friend coming to stay for the weekend, and I think it would be rude to greet him with the words “Great to see you, you know where the kettle is, I’m going to go write for six hours in a room on my own…”

On a serious note, I am pretty burnt out, and a couple of days not thinking about writing, or  words, or literature in general, will do me good, I think. I may not read at all for the whole weekend, ignoring texts, disregarding tweets and picking a restaurant that has pictures of the food on the menu…

So, on that note, my friends, I shall bid you a fond adieu, but only for a couple of days. Chapter 18 will be forthcoming by Monday at the latest, as will this blog. Unless there are drunken ramblings at some point in the next 48 hours, of course!

Oh, one final thing, I was trying to hustle my fiver year old along a bit, and casually said “c’mon, people, let’s move like we got a purpose”, which is when I realised that a lot of what I say is copied directly from Aliens…is this a bad thing?

Stay Frosty, People.